RETIARIUS I-IV CENTURY A.D.
Presentation: The figurine by Romeo Models is a gladiator present in the arenas between the I and the IV century A.D. This type of gladiator was called retiarius and he was the antagonist of the secutor. The weapons carried by a retiarius were: a 3-meters diameter net with 10-20 cm webbing, weighed down at the edges with lead weights, and fastened to the waist by a long cord, a trident whose prongs were about 5 cm apart, a pugio dagger, a metal shield, a galerus (shoulder guard) strapped to a shoulder to protect both shoulder and throat, and lower arm padding. His combat technique was to nimbly circle around his opponent, immobilise him with the net and then try to strike him with the trident or dagger.
Gladiators were generally men between the ages of 25 and 40. The retiarius was chosen from the younger gladiators.
History: Among the entertainments for the masses in ancient Rome, gladiator competitions were foremost. Tombs dating back to IV century B.C. in Paestum, near Salerno, show evidence of the earliest bloodshed linked to the cult of the dead. The first gladiatorial games, called ‘munera’, that is ‘gift’, took on a symbolic meaning during funerals of notable people; human sacrifice was aimed at procuring the benevolence of the deceased and softening him towards the living.
The earliest testimony of combats to the death bearing the name of the departed was the funeral of a certain Brutus Pera, whose sons organised a competition between three pairs of gladiators, which took place in the Forum Boarium area in Rome in 264 B.C. Gladiator combats became popular with the public, and after the setting up of real state gladiator schools, these shows were gradually brought into the arenas and followed one another in rapid succession, breaking away once and for all from funeral rites to become part of the entertainment of the masses.
In 404 A.D. Emperor Honorius put a stop to bloody combats in the arenas, although historians believe that, notwithstanding the rapid decline in gladiatorial games, they were still held until 440 A.D.. There is, in fact, testimony relating to a combat in 523 A.D. in the reign of Theoderic. However, it can be affirmed that gladiator fights were banned once and for all in 681 A.D. The term ‘gladiator’ comes from the name of the short sword that the fighters used in close combat, called ‘gladius’.
Gladiatorial combats followed the precise rules of ars gladiatoria that foresaw combat between pairs of gladiators that were well-balanced as regards physical fitness and armour.
Focus Storia, N.69 July 2012 pp.19-63, Mondadori S.p.A. Milano
L.Adkins; R.A.Adkins, Life in ancient Rome, Oxford University Press,New York 1998.
C.W.Weber, Panem et circenses, Garzanti editore S.p.A. 1986.
S.Wisdom, Gladiators 100 BC-AD 200 Osprey publishing UK 2001
Sculptor Gianni La Rocca
Painter Andrea Terzolo